09 August 2006

Mooch Ado About Something

You can tell its Bubble Time when people start companies based on permutations of other, already-successful concepts. Sites like eHub are chockablock with ideas that you just now are going to crash and burn. But occasionally you come across something that seems a little different.

A case in point is BookMooch, "a community for exchanging used books". That community part is important, because it indicates that this is not just some wet-behind-the-ears MBA who's out to make a quick killing by plugging into a few buzzwords. Indeed, The Inquirer's interview with John Buckman, the man behind the idea, confirms that it's a labour of love, with its heart in the right place:

The idea for BookMooch came came when I was in Norwich, UK, at a local community center, and they had a "leave a book, take a book" area with bookshelves and couches. The shelves were filled and people were chatting about the books, asking for advice, as well as reading. It was a healthy and natural thing. Reading books can be a very social act, but someone has to provide the meeting place.

I saw this great book-share spot in the UK, and thought "this could be done on the Internet", and it shocked me that no-one had done it yet, at least not in the way I thought it should.

What I like about it - side from all this feel-good stuff - is that it is trying to create an analogue version of some of the ideas that are common in the digital space of the opens:

BookMooch is like a giant bookstore, of all the bookshelves in people's homes. By aggregating everyone's home book collection, we should have the best selection of used books on the planet.


Many books go out of print and are hard to find. With BookMooch-- and this is important-- they're still available and what's more, free.

Books are emotional, just like music. They are a cultural product and they matter to us. It feels good to recommend a book to someone, to pass it on, so they'll enjoy it.

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